What do you see as the theme in They Cage the Animals at Night?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Numerous themes are developed in the book in regard to society, family structure, human nature, and the treatment of powerless children by adults, but the primary theme is one of courage in overcoming adversity. Even though the narrator experienced loneliness, cruelty, emotional deprivation, physical abuse, and terrible insecurity during the formative years of his childhood, he not only survived, he survived with his spirit intact. His courage, endurance, and resiliency in the face of such forces serve as a testament to the strength of the human spirit itself.

Surely what kept him from being destroyed or damaged beyond healing was the love and companionship he found along his way. Although he suffered at the hands of cruel or simply insensitive adults, he also found comfort in the kind acts of other adults; also, the children in this story, all powerless in their common situation, found that they were not truly alone so long as they had each other. The strength he found in these others, both kind adults and supportive peers, affirms the idea that humanity is capable of goodness, as well as selfishness and cruelty.